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Best hitters in playoff history: Ruth, Gehrig and … Beltran?

Oct 9, 2012, 11:19 AM EDT

Washington Nationals v St Louis Cardinals - Game Two Getty Images

The perception of Carlos Beltran‘s performance in the playoffs is largely built around his once taking an Adam Wainwright curveball for an NLCS-ending called third strike. That narrative, like many narratives, couldn’t be further from the truth.

After homering twice last night Beltran has now gone deep 13 times in 25 career playoff games while hitting .362 with a 1.297 OPS. He’s played in six different playoff series and has posted an OPS above 1.000 in four of them (including that NLCS against Wainwright and the Cardinals in 2006).

Obviously those are amazing numbers, but did you know Beltran now owns the highest slugging percentage and the highest OPS in postseason history? Here are the career leardboards among everyone with at least 100 plate appearances in the playoffs:

                    PA      SLG                            PA      OPS
CARLOS BELTRAN     115     .819        CARLOS BELTRAN     115    1.297
Babe Ruth          167     .744        Babe Ruth          167    1.211
Lou Gehrig         150     .731        Lou Gehrig         150    1.208

Carlos Beltran. Babe Ruth. Lou Gehrig. No big deal or anything.

  1. chill1184 - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    Beltran is too fairly judged on that one at bat. I hate the Cardinals but I still love Beltran (in a manly way).

    • chill1184 - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      *I mean unfairly. Can we please get an edit function?!

    • disableme - Oct 9, 2012 at 10:48 PM

      That’s disgusting

  2. jayscarpa - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    His 2004 postseason is unforgettable.

    • kevinbnyc - Oct 9, 2012 at 2:07 PM

      The Mets never forgot

  3. moogro - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    Only 35 more PA’s and he’s got it.

    • thomas655 - Oct 9, 2012 at 5:28 PM

      Hopefully he will get 35 more in this playoffs. Go Cards!!!

  4. materialman80 - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    Beltran may not be Ruth or Gehrig, but he has had a pretty good year and is certainly part of the reason the Cards are in the playoffs. He killed the Cardinals for years playing against us, so I’m glad he’s finally on our team.

    • thomas655 - Oct 9, 2012 at 5:29 PM

      When the Cards signed him, I hoped that he would be as good in the playoffs with us as he was against us- so far so good!

  5. kopy - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    Probably about 5 more years before my Mets Beltran jersey goes from tacky/outdated to vintage.

  6. vallewho - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    I doubt that anybody will remember Beltran 50 years from now…

  7. djeter220 - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    When I associate Beltran with the postseason I think of his 04 run with Houston.

    • Gardenhire's Cat - Oct 9, 2012 at 12:35 PM

      Yeah, I completely agree. This is just factually incorrect: “The perception of Carlos Beltran‘s performance in the playoffs is largely built around his once taking an Adam Wainwright curveball for an NLCS-ending called third strike.” Gleeman you’re losing it.

      • ezwriter69 - Oct 9, 2012 at 4:40 PM

        You don’t understand… to Gleeman, to NBC, if it didn’t happen in New York or Boston, it didn’t really happen, or if it did, it’s irrelevant.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 9, 2012 at 8:21 PM

        to Gleeman, to NBC, if it didn’t happen in New York or Boston

        Yes, I’m sure a guy who’s been writing a Twins blog for the last 10+ years is really only concerned with NY/Bos teams. Bravo

  8. atom55 - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    Carlos Beltran has quietly put together a borderline HOF career. Keeping in mind that
    A). He was an excellent defensive center fielder for much of his career
    B). His obvious power number come with 306 career stolen bases at an amazing 87% success rate.
    C). His career isn’t over by a long shot.

    Is he Griffey, Mays or Speaker? No, but who is? Most HOFers aren’t. But he’s a great player who did a lot of things very well.

    Odds are, he’ll be ignored by the voters. People tend to notice players who are great at a couple of things really much more than a player who does everything very well. (see: Rice, Jim)

    • theawesomersfranchise - Oct 9, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      Because the idiots doing the voting have turned the Hall of Fame into the Hall of Stats and Achievements.

      Guys like Beltran and Joe Carter are Hall of Famers

      • atom55 - Oct 9, 2012 at 1:10 PM

        …you kind of lost me on Joe Carter

        Also, stats are a reflection of what occurred in the game. I’m not against stats, I’m against badly over/under valuing specific stats.

      • paperlions - Oct 9, 2012 at 2:09 PM

        So….instead of the HOF being good players….you prefer the “let’s elect guys we like” and the veteran committee cronyism approaches?

        Beltran has great stats because he is a great player….just like all other great players….there is no such thing as a guy with great stats and achievements that wasn’t a great player.

      • ezwriter69 - Oct 9, 2012 at 4:43 PM

        paperlions, unlike what you say, I think the HOF should be for great players, not good ones. Baseball is the only HOF that maintains that, largely, Bert Blyleven and a few others excepted.

      • paperlions - Oct 9, 2012 at 6:13 PM

        Actually, what you want are players you were always told were great and always believed they were great, whether they were or not….because you could kick out 100 HOFers and still not kick out anyone as good as Blyleven.

        Due to cronyism, the MLB HOF is far more diluted than other HOFs, who never had committees of former players electing their friends every year for decades.

    • Roger Moore - Oct 9, 2012 at 3:28 PM

      I’d say that he looks more like “Hall of the Very Good” than HOF. None of his 10 best comps are in the Hall, and at most one or two of them are likely to make it. Only two of his best comps through his current age in the Hall. He has just one point of black ink, for leading the league in games played in 2002. His HOF monitor and HOF Standards aren’t especially great, either.

      Obviously his career isn’t over yet, so he could still solidify his case with a few more good to excellent seasons. OTOH, he could conclusively ruin his chances if he finishes his career badly enough to drag down his lifetime rate stats without reaching any big counting stat milestones.

      • Mark - Oct 9, 2012 at 3:50 PM

        The only CF since 1980 who has been better than Beltran is Griffey Jr. You might be able to make an argument for Andruw Jones, but that’s it. I’d say Beltran was better than Lofton or Edmonds, and beyond that there really hasn’t been a better CF than Beltran.

        He’s a no doubt Hall of Famer given how good his bat and glove has been plus his longevity especially when compared to his peers.

      • atom55 - Oct 9, 2012 at 7:43 PM

        I’d say Edmonds was better than all of them (noting that Beltran’s career isn’t over yet and could easily pass them)

        People seem to forget that Edmonds finished his career with a 132 OPS+ (higher than Beltran and Jones by a lot, and just 4 behind Griffey), ran up 5 consecutive years where his lowest OPS was .976.

        It’s not open and shut, and there are certainly compelling arguments for Beltran over Edmonds. But I just gotta make sure Jimmy gets the love her deserves.

      • Mark - Oct 9, 2012 at 8:12 PM

        Oh, I didn’t forget that Edmonds was the better hitter. I just think that given that Beltran’s edge in speed, and possibly defence, combined with the fact his career isn’t over makes him a better option than Edmonds.

        For what it’s worth I think they’re both HoF CF’s.

  9. willclarkgameface - Oct 9, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    You can make a stat for anything. This is a non-story and people won’t be so high on Beltran once he gets injured and can’t play in a series-deciding game.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 9, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      Thanks Will…thanks a lot. I appreciate you keeping things positive. Come on Man! Jeesh!

      • gogigantos - Oct 9, 2012 at 3:57 PM

        sounds like Clark’sBicept,, just a bit,, ,,,,,

    • ezwriter69 - Oct 9, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      Another one who names himself after another man’s body part… what is it with you SF guys? Oh, guess that’s obvious, isn’t it, never mind San Francisco and all that, I get it.

      • nogoodtomedead - Oct 9, 2012 at 10:51 PM

        Big points for originality. A San Francisco gay joke! Holy Christ keep beating a dead horse!! You are aware that every major city has a large gay population right? Are you one of the frightened heartland bible bangers who cower in the cornfields? How about I mention Tim Lincecum so you can make an equally brilliant joke about long hair and its association with marijuana! Seriously- just give it up.

      • nategearhart - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:56 AM

        Fuck off.

  10. kelshannon19 - Oct 9, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    This guy did work with Houston.

  11. jeffbbf - Oct 9, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    I mean no disrespect for Mr. Beltran, or any other modern-day player (escpecially those in the wildcard era, but I’m always a little skeptical of these comparisons with the old-timers. Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, etc….their post-season experiences were world series-exclusive. They never hit against the #3 or 4 pitcher on the 3rd, 4th, or 5th best team in their league in the post season. They were building their stats off the pitchers from the best team in the other league. Again, I have nothing but respect for those who produce under pressure, but I think the comparisons should be kept to “the playoff era” or “the wild card era” or, heck, just tell us who the best performers in the world series have been.

    • paperlions - Oct 9, 2012 at 2:12 PM

      You sure about that?

      They also never had to hit a cutter, or face relievers throwing 100 mph gas, or splitters, rarely a change up….and yes, they faced all sorts of #3 and #4 pitchers just like players today. The difference between elite and average MLB players in first 1/2 of the 20th century was far bigger than the difference between today’s elite and average players.

      • ezwriter69 - Oct 9, 2012 at 4:56 PM

        They also were unquestionably the number one sport, if you were an athlete, you played baseball. All the talent was concentrated on 16 teams, not 30. They traveled by train, and stayed in very ordinary hotels and ate crap. They had no video study, no computer analysis, and very rudimentary medical care. If they tore up a knee, it stayed torn up for the rest of their career. They had to hit against spitballs, and bat without helmets, and use a glove half the size of the modern gloves with no “pocket”.
        ETC. ETC. ETC.
        You just can’t compare athletes from different eras. Advantages, disadvantages, you can go on forever. Get over the temptation to rank players from a century ago against now, it’s just stupid, there IS no comparison, because the conditions and the athletes and the venues and the society were just totally different then than now. There IS no valid comparison possible.

    • nategearhart - Oct 9, 2012 at 2:29 PM

      They also only had to face the best white players from east of the Mississippi River, NOT the best players in the world.

      • Roger Moore - Oct 9, 2012 at 3:41 PM

        They faced plenty of great players from west of the Mississippi. There may not have been any Major League teams there until the 1950s, but scouts certainly went there and brought back plenty of great players. For example, Walter Johnson and Pete Alexander were both from west of the Mississippi. So were Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.

      • nategearhart - Oct 9, 2012 at 4:04 PM

        Alright, I’ll state my point another way: Beltran, by virtue of being in MLB here and now, plays against the best baseball players in the world (that are at all interested in playing). Ruth and Gehrig, by virtue of the times they played in, went up against weaker competition overall.

      • ezwriter69 - Oct 9, 2012 at 5:04 PM

        Yes, the MLB was all white, but there huge caveats. EVERY great athlete of the time played baseball. NO one played basketball but tall geeks, and that was true for every race and region of the country. Football had no real professional league, they played exhibition games as barnstromers. Boxing took a few, but essentially NO one in America played anything but baseball if they were good enough. So, the very best athletes in America, ALL of them, were distributed among 16 teams. The best 400 white athletes in America were all in MLB.

  12. 49ersgiants4life - Oct 9, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Too bad he couldn’t hit a beach ball last year with the giants down the stretch therefore couldn’t perform in the playoffs…

    • gogigantos - Oct 9, 2012 at 3:54 PM

      This and the historical performance is what we traded for, made some sense then. Yup, sucks that his wrist wouldn’t get right until it was over for us then. Maybe over for us now, or not,,, heheheh,,, but we still got the magic of 2010 and Posey dreams of what tomorrow can be.

    • mekonsrock - Oct 9, 2012 at 5:12 PM

      Yeah, if only Beltran had hit better than the .378/.434/.700 line he put up for San Fran last September, while playing in 24 of 25 games (they went 14-11), the Giants woulda had a chance to defend their title. What a slacker.

  13. aglawman - Oct 9, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    I was at Turner years back when Beltran stuck the dagger in the Bravos.

    Beltran steps it up in the post-season.

    Lesson: Carlos, don’t play for losers like the Mets…just sayin’

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